Mongolia Fund to Manage $30 Billion Mining Jackpot

Bloomberg reports, “The Mongolian government will set up a sovereign wealth fund using mining royalties and tax revenue, and distribute part of the income to citizens to alleviate poverty, said Finance Minister Sangajav Bayartsogt. The fund, to be run by professional managers from 2013, will disburse part of its annual income to every Mongolian in cash or non-cash securities to let them own stakes in the country’s mining wealth, Bayartsogt said. Initial capital will be drawn from Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.’s $4 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper- gold mine project, estimated to generate $30 billion in tax revenue over 50 years, he said.

‘We’re drafting the idea to implement the proposal, and we’re studying examples like the Alaskan Permanent Fund,’ Bayartsogt said in a Sept. 9 interview in the capital Ulaanbaatar, declining to specify the size of the proposed fund.

Mongolia, whose 2.7 million citizens depend on mining and agriculture for half the nation’s 2008 economic output, is banking on Oyu Tolgoi and about 6,000 other mineral deposit sites to lift average annual income, which at $1,680 per person last year was ranked 151st in the world by the World Bank.

‘If the government can pull this off, we can expect lasting stability and growth in Mongolia, because this fund can help stabilize the economy and help fend off the boom and burst of the commodity-price cycles,’ said Erdenedalai Choinkhor, an analyst at Frontier Securities Co. in Ulaanbaatar. The $40 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, created in 1976 with state revenue from oil production, has constitutionally protected capital that can’t be spent. Most of its earnings are reinvested, and a dividend is returned each year to eligible Alaskans. The fund reported a $6.3 million loss in 2001 after buying 685,600 shares in Enron Corp. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the 2.47 trillion-krone ($410 billion) Government Pension Fund – Global, derives money from taxes on oil and gas and ownership of petroleum fields. The oil and gas money is invested abroad to avoid stoking domestic inflation.

Mongolia also wants to diversify the economy’s reliance on animal husbandry and mining to avoid the so-called Dutch Disease, where a commodity boom sucks in foreign exchange, raises the currency’s value and makes manufacturing less competitive.”

read more: Bloomberg

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